ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Brandon Villalobos, the 15-year-old boy charged with murdering his 12-year-old friend, was in court Thursday morning.
Villalobos is accused of killing Alex Madrid, who he had been friends with for years. Madrid’s body was found under a mattress Tuesday night in a field.
It was an emotional day in court as Villalobos went in front of a judge for the first time. Madrid’s family and friends packed the courtroom in Los Lunas to get a glimpse at the teen charged in Madrid’s death.
Villalobos shuffled into the courtroom, keeping his head down throughout the hearing.
His mother and father stood by him as Villalobos’ attorney denied the murder and tampering with evidence charges against him.
According to court documents, Villalobos told investigators he and Madrid had gotten into a fight because Madrid was talking about Villalobos’ 4-month-old daughter.
Villalobos told investigators he hit Madrid once near the eye. At 235 pounds, Villalobos reportedly outweighed Madrid by nearly 150 pounds.
In court, the state asked that Villalobos remain in custody, saying he’s a danger to himself and others. The judge agreed.
Villalobos’ attorney said her client doesn’t understand what’s going on. She told the judge the teenager is developmentally delayed.
What that means for the case moving forward is still unclear, but it’s gotten him off charges before.
“Due to his low mental function, I do not believe he understands those charges or his rights,” said Villalobos’ attorney Cindy Mercer.
Less than a year ago, Villalobos was found incompetent to stand trial to face a charge for fighting in public.
Villalobos’ attorney isn’t saying much about the murder case, including if she’ll seek a competency evaluation. Because he’s 15, Villalobos could be tried as an adult. Prosecutors have 10 business days to make that decision.
District Attorney Lemuel Martinez says that’s still up in the air.
“We’re waiting for all the reports to come in and then we’ll compare the facts of the case and evidence to the charges that we can move. If those charges allow us to move forward, then we will. If they don’t, then we’ll stay in juvenile court,” Martinez said.
If the state moves forward with charging Villalobos as an adult, he could face up to 30 years in prison if he’s convicted of first-degree murder.
Outside of the courtroom, Madrid’s mother said she had warned her son to stay away from Villalobos.
“My son still wanted to be his friend. He’s already hit my son before and I told him, I told my son to stay away from him,” said Roxanne Madrid.
Neighbors say they are shocked by the murder of the boy from Madrid, who was in town visiting family.
“It’s very sad because he’s just really young. They just threw him there like a bag of garbage. It’s terrible,” a neighbor said.
On Thursday, Villalobos’ classmates at Los Lunas High School reacted to the charges against him.
“I was actually a little shocked, like just to know I was that close to somebody who could kill somebody. You know, like it could of been me,” said Elijah Williams, a freshman at the school.
Freshman Christian Brewster said, “I was actually pretty shocked because, well, I didn’t think he’d be the guy to do something like that to a littler kid.”
Villalobos has a violent past. Since 2010, the 15-year-old has been charged with battery twice and fighting in public once. He pled innocent by reason of insanity to two of those charges and the charges were later dropped.
Friends of Madrid are obviously heartbroken. On Thursday, an assembly was held at the La Resolana Leadership Academy where he attended school. Kids were informed of his death and the principal says grief counselors will be on campus for them. School officials are also encouraging people to help Madrid’s family in raising funds for his funeral.
If you would like to help the family of the victim, there will be a fundraiser Saturday, Feb. 22, at Julian’s Burgers, Central & Atrisco SW (4100 Central Ave SW, Albuquerque), or you can make a donation at New Mexico’s Educators FCU under Alex Madrid.